Hear, Listen, Feel
The Jewish people expelled from Spain in 1492 spoke a language called Ladino or Judeo-Español, a language I speak. In Ladino, there is one word for ‘to hear,’ ‘to listen,’ and ‘to feel:’ sentir. Just one word captures all three meanings. There are still remnants in modern Spanish and other romance languages that sentir had all three meanings: A person who is hard of hearing is mal de sentido. A one-way street is un sentido. In Italian, sentir means ‘to hear.’ In French, ‘to smell.’
Five hundred years ago, a person would hear, listen and feel what someone was saying to him. Perhaps he even smelled their intentions. Sentir meant to sense: hear, listen, feel, smell. Modern Spanish divides the experience into three words: oir for ‘to hear,’ escuchar for ‘to listen,’ and sentir for ‘to feel’, we can hear but not really listen or listen but not really feel what is being said.
How does the modern person hear but not listen? To listen requires that you use your mind to focus on what you hear. You must not allow any foreign thoughts to distract you from the subject at hand. In comparison to the past , contemporary life provides an avalanche of stimuli; the mind wonders to something other than what is being communicated.
Now, what about feeling?
In order to feel, you have to stop listening. Stop processing information. Stop trying to understand so you can feel. You can not think and feel at the same time . Not well anyway. When you feel, you read between the lines what the words do not say. You interpret the meaning of the message communicated beyond comprehending every word spoken.
Maybe our prolonged formal education makes us brainy creatures. We know a lot but understand with all our heart very little.
Just thinking (how ironic),
Ichak Kalderon Adizes